Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Vikings Excel in Opener: Now the Fans Must Step Up

Man, the Vikings played a great game Sunday. They showed the NFL something! Offensively, the Vikings excelled. Culpepper was great and is showing everyone that he's maturing as a QB and becoming the NFL's posterboy for quarterbacks. Moss was catching touchdowns and even completing passes of his own!

Yes, Sunday started slowly as the Cowboys came out firing but Minnesota finished everything that Dallas started. Early on Cowboys receivers were making great catches. Personally, I don't fault the defense. If the Cowboys receivers are tapping toes to catch a ball in bounds and are pulling in balls that are inches from the turf, there is nothing you can do - no defense can stop that.

In the second half, the Cowboys dropped back to earth and the Vikings took off. In the end, it was not close as Minnesota trounced Dallas 35 to 17.

Despite the Viking's full-on effort, I must admit that the fans need to step it up. I've been to many Vikings games and the 'Dome was not properly rockin'. I took my Dad to his first regular season game. I also took my step-mom to her first game at the Metrodome (she's from Detroit and had been to the Silverdome many times) and we did not assault their eardrums. Personally, I was disappointed. What do Viking fans need to get loud? I tell you, the season opener was everything you'd want: The rival Cowboys in town, the national spotlight, and the Viking offense firing on all cylinders. So why was it so quiet?

Also, I have to take issue with Culpepper detractors. During the game, some fans behind me were calling for Culpepper's head. They were frustrated with him calling timeout and mad that he took so long to hike the ball. Immediately after one comment, Culpepper calls an audible and throws the ball to a wide-open Onterrio Smith. Running past broken coverage, Smith ran for 63 yards and put the Vikings stamp on an until-then hard fought game. That shut the Viking fan up for quite some time. I just hope this 'fan' recognizes that timeouts are your friend and a quarterback who takes time to read the defense is special. Hey rubes - leave Culpepper be!

But enough about the fans. I plead those of you planning to attend the Bears game on September 26th. Bring the noise! After all, it's nicknamed the Thunderdome!

Back to the game. Culpepper's great play is due to great playcalling. When Moss threw his 37-yard pass to Marcus Robinson, it was genius. Shut down most of the game by Dallas' defensive scheme, everyone including me was thinking that Moss needs the ball. So when Moss gets the ball on a reverse, I'm thinking this is how Randy gets the ball. Wanting to shut down Moss, the Cowboys were all over the reverse and preparing the stop any slicin' and dicin' Moss was cooking up. But the Vikings coaches played to that fear. When Moss slowed down and cocked his arm, my eyes got wide. Wow! I couldn't believe it. This was a perfect call. I NEVER expected that play. It was beautifully designed and perfectly timed. That play will have long-affecting repercussions. The next time Randy touches the ball on a sweep or reverse, cornerbacks and safeties won't be crowding the line because they will remember the play. On one play, the Vikings broke Dallas' back and set up everyone to come. More than likely this opens up the field for Randy for the year to come. All I can say is "Brilliant!"

What's Next?

Done with Dallas, Minnesota stays in the national spotlight with a Monday night visit to Philadelphia. This game is big and showcases two great wide receivers in Moss and Terrell Owens as well as two running quarterbacks in Culpepper and Donovan McNabb. Both clubs have defensive weaknesses so this game could be a shootout! It should be fun to watch!

Bleed purple!